A Hand of Glory
is a preserved severed hand
holding a candle, often one made from human tallow or each finger made into a candle. The Hand was often said to have belonged to a hanged man—either his left hand
or, if the man was a murderer, the hand that did the deed. Another source is the arm of an unborn child.
The Hand is variously ascribed a number of magical abilities that it is supposed to produce whilst the wick stays lit, including providing a light that only the wielder can see, unlocking any door
it comes across or sending anyone into a household/anyone who looks into the flame to sleep/paralyzing them. Generally any power that would be of use to a sneak thief. Generally an artifact of Black Magic
—something that no respectable sorcerer would own, use, or even want to touch.
- Forbidden Worlds #15 had the story The Glory Hand as can be seen here. In the story the hand points to pirate treasure and a demon bound to the Hand protects the wielder from the curse that guards the treasure.
- In Hellboy Box of Evil Igor Bromhead uses a Hand to steal a box that had the demon Ualac trapped inside. It paralyzes the home owner while Bromhead steals the box right in front of him and Bromhead leaves the Hand behind him forcing the home owner to wait for hours till he could move.
- Another appears in Being Human, Hellboy has a Oh Crap moment when he sees it while Roger remains unaffected because he's "not human". It doesn't help Roger's angsting about not being human.
- Balberith, Hell's Librarian from the Hellraiser comics created a Hand from the man who summoned her that turned her invisible.
- The Invisibles
- The Sixth Gun: Gabriel from the Knights of Solomon is introduced carrying a Hand. Cullen Bunn goes into more detail:
The infamous Hands of Glory are rooted in such acts of baseless cruelty and black magic that they can put the fear of both Heaven and Hell into the hearts of the bravest men. There are more than a dozen of these severed, pickled hands in the world, all taken from the bodies of hanged murderers. The hands were harvested while the bodies still swung under the light of a full moon. Even now, the sound of creaking ropes or the wind through the trees will cause the long-dead fingers to twitch horribly. It is believed that there is a connection between the hands and the spirits of the legendary Gallows Tree. Where the ghosts of the Gallows Tree are said to possess the gift of prophecy, though, each of the Hands of Glory has a unique property. Each hand is bled, dried, and dipped in wax. When these dead man's candles burn, they can ward off evil spirits, unlock doorways and reveal hidden passages, freeze people in their footsteps, render a speaker speechless, or allow one to travel great distances with a single footstep. Some lore holds that once a Hand of Glory is lit, only mother's milk may extinguish it. Others say that a strong breeze carrying the stink of the grave can douse the light. It is said that should a Hand of Glory be extinguished in this way, the restless dead will quickly rise up in the deepening shadows.
- Sparrow & Crowe: Dr Xander Crowe replaced his right hand with a hand of glory when he lost it in his second altercation with Adramelech, an ancient Assyrian demon.
- Angel Heart: While Harry Angel is searching Madame Krusemark's house he finds one.
- A Hand is used in the 1997 Quicksilver Highway to introduce an adaption of Clive Barker's story, "The Body Politic".
- One is used in the original The Wicker Man against St. Howie.
- The Bartimaeus Trilogy book The Golem's Eye: Harlequin carries one such "distinctive candle".
- In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Malfoy notices a Hand of Glory in Borgin and Burkes. He eventually uses it in the Half-Blood Prince for his plan to let Death Eaters into the school.
"Can I have that?" interrupted Draco, pointing at the withered hand on its cushion.
"Ah, the Hand of Glory!" said Mr. Borgin, abandoning Mr. Malfoy's list and scurrying over to Draco. "Insert a candle and it gives light only to the holder! Best friend of thieves and plunderers! Your son has fine taste, sir."
- A Hand also appears in a poem by the same name in the Ingoldsby Legends where it has the power to send a household into a deep slumber.
- In The House with a Clock in its Walls by John Bellairs the villian Mrs. Izard uses a Hand to momentarily paralyze Jonathan and Mrs. Zimmermann when they and Lewis finally find the hidden Doomsday Clock.
- The Hundred Days: Dr. Maturin is given a hand exhibiting palmar aponeurosis by a fellow physician to the point that the fingers are bent inwards and the fingernails growing through the flesh of the palm. The superstitious crew believe that it is a Hand of Glory and that it is a Good Luck Charm making them upset when the dog eats it.
- The Iron Dragons Daughter: Jane crafts a Hand to steal from Galiagante.
- The Laundry Series has Hands of Glory serving as channels from an extradimensional energy source. Not only do they bestow invisibility, they can be used to fire Frickin' Laser Beams, though this causes the hand to degrade. The Laundry usually gets theirs from stray birds (ever wonder why there are so many one-legged pigeons?), though Chinese political prisoners aren't unheard of.
- Lord Darcy story "The Eyes Have It" Lord Darcy and Master Sean find a Hand in a chest owned by Laird Duncan, the possession of which without a Research Permit from the Church is proof of practicing Black Magic.
...a man thrust what appeared to be a child's severed hand clutching a candle toward him as he passed, muttering, "Hand of Glory, sir? Send 'em up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire. Guaranteed to work." Richard hurried past, not wishing to find out what a Hand of Glory was, nor how it worked;...
- In From Hell With Love Methuselah was in the Nightside during the events of Agents of Light and Darkness he was stealing an angel's hand, which he makes into a hand of glory.
- Simon R. Green occasionally has one show up with the power to open and seal locks, portals and barriers both mundane and magical.
- The Rage album Reign of Fear has the song "Hand of Glory" about the hand.
- In Dark•Matter what a hand of glory does depends on what the original owner did such as thief makes people fall a sleep while a magicians hand makes the user smarter and more skilled at magic.
- The Hand of Glory from Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder can be worn around the the neck (presumably not alight). It provides a extra place to wear magic rings along with a being able to cast a few spells.
- The Hand casts daylight (makes an object emit light) and see invisibility (Exactly What It Says on the Tin) once a day even though these are the oppisite of the usual stealth uses for the Hand. These spells make it more usual for catching a sneak rather then sneaking around.
- Hunter: The Vigil has the Hand as a top-level example of the Cheiron Group's Thaumatechnology. Instead of granting invisibility, however, it grants a light that enthralls all who see it. And unlike other examples, the user needs to have it grafted to their wrist first. It's always a bit cold and wrinkled, like you just pulled it out of a bath. Fun times can ensue if you blow the roll to use it - you get stuck staring at it yourself until someone puts it out (the flames don't consume your flesh, but only go out if you stick them in milk).
- Unknown Armies: It can paralyze anyone who looks into the flame as long as it is lit or until the victim is hurt and leaves them with no memory of what happened, but the hand can only be used indoors. Hands of Glory can be crafted by anyone regardless of magical power.
- Vampire: The Masquerade: The Giovanni can create a Hand of Glory using a level 2 necromancy ritual that affects mortals. Must be handy for feeding.
- Betrayal at Krondor: Glory Hands are used for the Nightfingers spell that steals items from enemies while in combat.
- Solid And Shade: Whilst Grave Robbing there is a small chance of being caught by the local guards unless the player is the lord of the place or carries a Hand of Glory.
- One of the objectives Thief: The Dark Project is to retrieve Garrett's lucky Hand of Glory from the beggar, Issyt who managed to smuggle the Hand with him into Cragscleft Prison.